Chloe Zhao won the Best Director prize at the 2021 EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) on Sunday night.
Her film Nomadland, which stars Frances McDormand as a woman who loses everything in the Great Recession and embarks on a nomadic journey through the American West, also beat out Sarah Gavron's Rocks to take home Best Film, after both movies were tied at seven nominations apiece ahead of the ceremony.
In addition, McDormand was named Best Leading Actress, while Nomadland was also celebrated for its cinematography.
Zhao became the first woman to win the best director title at the event since Kathryn Bigelow, who took home the prize in 2009 for war drama The Hurt Locker. She was one of four female directors nominated at the 2021 awards.
Zhao dedicated her Best Film award to "the nomadic community who welcomed us into their lives," adding, "Thank you for showing us that ageing is a beautiful part of life, a journey that we should all cherish and celebrate. How we treat our elders says a lot about our society and we need to do better."
Elsewhere, Anthony Hopkins claimed the Best Leading Actor prize at the virtual ceremony in London, triumphing over awards season favourite, late actor Chadwick Boseman.
Supporting honours went to Daniel Kaluuya, for Judas and the Black Messiah, and 73-year-old Minari star Yuh-jung Youn, who expressed her delight that the typically "snobbish" Brits had given her work the seal of approval.
Emerald Fennell was left flustered after her script for Promising Young Woman landed the Best Original Screenplay title, but recovered to accept a second award for Outstanding British Film.
Meanwhile, Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller's The Father was named Best Adapted Screenplay, and Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round, starring Mads Mikkelsen, triumphed in the Best Film Not in the English Language category.
A glamorous Priyanka Chopra Jonas presented the first award of the night, for Best Animated Film, which went to Disney and Pixar's Soul, which also won for Best Original Score.
Bukky Bakray, 19, won the public-voted EE Rising Star Award, and Ang Lee was honoured with the prestigious BAFTA Fellowship, which was presented to him by actor Hugh Grant.
The virtual proceedings, hosted by Edith Bowman and Dermot O'Leary from the Royal Albert Hall, began with a tribute to British royal Prince Philip, who passed away on Friday. He was also later remembered in the In Memoriam section alongside Chadwick Boseman, Sean Connery, Christopher Plummer, Irrfan Khan, Nikita Pearl Waligwa, Ben Cross, Sir Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, Max Von Sydow, Cicely Tyson, Dave Prowse, Kirk Douglas, Barbara Windsor, Alan Parker, and Olivia De Havilland, among others.
Musical entertainment was provided by British stars Liam Payne and Celeste, who sang her song Hear My Voice from The Trial of the Chicago 7, and Leslie Odom, Jr., who performed a transatlantic duet from Los Angeles, with Corinne Bailey Rae, who was at the Royal Albert Hall.
The full list of BAFTA winners is as follows:
Best Film: Nomadland
Outstanding British Film: Promising Young Woman
Best Director: Chloe Zhao - Nomadland
Best Leading Actor: Anthony Hopkins - The Father
Best Leading Actress: Frances McDormand - Nomadland
Best Supporting Actress: Yuh-Jung Youn - Minari
Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya - Judas and the Black Messiah
EE Rising Star Award: Bukky Bakray
Best Original Screenplay: Emerald Fennell - Promising Young Woman
Best Adapted Screenplay: Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller - The Father
Best Casting: Lucy Pardee - Rocks
Animated Film: Soul
Best Original Score: Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross - Soul
Best Documentary: My Octopus Teacher
Best Film Not in the English Language: Another Round
Best Cinematography: Joshua James Richards - Nomadland
Best Editing: Mikkel E.G. Nielsen - Sound of Metal
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer: Remi Weekes - His House
BAFTA Fellowship: Ang Lee